August 28, 2022 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082822.cfm)
While waiting for her flight, once a very proper British lady went to the airport café. She sat at a table for two, ordered a mug of cappuccino and set herself to enjoy some fine biscuits she had in her tote bag. Because the café was so crowded, a black Jamaican took the other seat in front of her and also had some brewed coffee. Not minding the company, the woman prepared for a leisurely time. And so, she began to read the paper and took a biscuit from a package on the table. She then noticed the man also took a biscuit from the same package. This upset her, but she just ignored it and kept on reading her paper. After a while she took another biscuit. And so did he. This irritated her and so, he glared at him. But he then reached for the last biscuit, smiled at her and offered her half of it. Now indignant at such conceited man, she paid her bills and left hurriedly back to pre-departure gate. There, to check for her boarding pass, she opened her tote bag. And much to her distress & shame, she saw, that in her bag was her own package of biscuits. “Opps, dili diay to iya.” Di pala kanya, yon. Opps, she ate Not her OWN biscuits.
Sometimes it is good to examine and ask ourselves: “What are the things that we claim as being rightly ours and yet are not truly ours?” This may not only be material possessions but could also be our status in society used to lord over others… titles used for personal advantages…. prejudices and biases harbored towards others… or self-righteous behaviors what makes us feel morally better or more privilege & important than others. Sometimes, we are not different from that lady. We sometimes claim these privileges that we come to think and believe that only ours to have, but do not really belong to us. Worse, we sometimes claim that we are the only rightful owners of the package of biscuits and it is exclusively for us to have and eat.
Certainly Jesus would not tolerate and justify such behavior of distinctiveness, self-righteousness, and conceit. This is what Jesus openly criticizes here in our gospel today. Although he was invited to a party hosted by a Pharisee, Jesus openly reprimanded both the guests and hosts for their unjust behaviors and practices of table fellowship. Jesus strongly condemned the Pharisees and scribes of his time for being so pre-occupied with honor, recognitions, privileges, titles, and social status, thinking they are greater compared to others.
Here, Jesus warns us of our tendency, like Pharisees to see ourselves as more privilege – of great importance compared to others. For Jesus, the Kingdom of God is wider than our human standards of social status and privileges. He reminds us today that we are not the rightful owners but rather, sharers or stewards of God’s graces. We cannot exclusively claim ownership and privilege for what we have, because everything we have is a gift from God. For Him, God’s Kingdom is more like a big banquet, a table-fellowship not exclusive for the most privilege but for ALL, everybody especially for those who are humble enough to share their gifts to others, because no one is too poor who cannot share with others and no one is too rich who does not need others. As an Ilonggo church song would say: Wala sang kubos nga indi makahatag, Wala sang adunahan nga wala nagakinahanglan.
Instead of being so conscious of our positions and honors in the God’s kingdom, Jesus calls us to humble ourselves and be more concerned of those who are discriminated and less fortunate than ours, “for whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be raised.” Thus, to find favor before God is to humble oneself. Rather than selfishly thinking of our greatness, the more we need to humble ourselves or else we may stumble, and fall.
Our Covid pandemic realities nowadays indeed are rather humbling experiences for us. It makes us realize that we are not owners but just administrators and stewards of everything we have in life; and also makes us learn that what we have are meant not to be exclusively own but rather be collectively shared with others. In our common poverty and humility, we come to empathize and be concerned of others than ourselves. We are not on our own, but we are all in this together.
Today, here in our Eucharist, our Lord Jesus invites us to his table-fellowship, not because of our greatness and honors but because of His great love for us. Here in this Eucharist, let us humbly take part in Him meal and ask the Lord to make us more concern & open to share with others, especially the poor and needy. So be it. Amen.